Welcome to Prof. deBock’s Innovator Network Blog — Ideas for Teaching, Learning and Living!


This blog is part of my outreach to teachers, students and just about everyone else who wants to feel empowered (not overwhelmed) by the wave of new technologies that is emerging everyday.  New emerging technologies have potential to enrich our lives in profound ways.  But this is not an alpha-geek clubhouse.  Rather my work here (and in webinars and other speaking engagements) is to show and teach “regular folks” that there are easy-to-use technologies that anyone can learn to use without being a “techie!”

But even beyond teaching tools, I write about ideas and culture and find excellent resources that will expand your ideas about this amazing, wide-world we live in.

Sometimes I just want to make you smile!

You have my promise that I will post things that I personally think are worthwhile.



This blog was started in 2007 when I was employed by the Center for Teaching and Learning at Kaplan University.  I was given an open-ended mandate by the then Provost of the University to help teachers find and use tools that will make them better teachers.  I took that vague mandate and turned it into a faculty-led, grassroots initiative called the Innovations Lab.  We supported faculty with micro-grants to explore tools and ideas.  We created a vibrant webinar series that introduced new technologies to 1000’s of teachers.  We supported user-groups interested in Second Life, Podcasting, Movie-making and sharing best-practices in a peer-led environment.  We helped establish Kaplan University’s educational conference “KU Village”, and we even held a successful Literary Festival.

Some of my inspiration came from Kaplan’s founder Stanley H. Kaplan.  In his memoir “Test Pilot” he wrote:

“My challenge as a teacher was to give students the tools they needed to get the job done. I had to keep students interested, keep them learning, keep them laughing, and — above all — build their confidence that they could succeed. I was the gentle nudger. I wanted them to love learning as much as I loved teaching. I used everything imaginable to stimulate the students — arguing, joking, teasing, cajoling, listening, deciphering, and probing. I dug deep into my bag of tricks and pulled out mnemonic devices… flash cards, scrawled blackboard diagrams, and flailing animated gestures.”

—Stanley H. Kaplan, “Test Pilot” page 37

I read these words and they still ring true to me and my personal mission with the Innovator Network.

On Saturday, December 31, 2011, Kaplan University eliminated my role in the Innovations Lab and thereby the Innovations Lab itself.  The University and I came to an agreement that I could continue blogging at this URL and that the assets created for this blog would become my intellectual property after 12/31/2011.



9 responses to “About

  1. Hi, Will — I am interested in becoming a Fellow. What is step 1 for the loyal society?;-)

    (Kaplan Arts & Sciences, Composition)

  2. Hi Patty!

    CTL is about to announce the next round of IL fellowship applications. I am letting the new Director get her feet under her, before we move too quickly.

    There is tremendous potential in this concept and we are trying to lay out the foundation correctly.

    You will hear about the application deadlines and process, I am hoping, in the next few weeks. It will come through normal KU channels and I will be sure to post it here also.

    Glad you had a chance to see the blog and are still interested in the IL!


  3. Thanks a million for the information, Will! 🙂


  4. Animoto for Education

    If you are looking for an innovative way to interact with your students, try Animoto.
    It is easy to create and fun to use.

    You can create unlimited videos and Animoto is free to educators.
    You can also introduce your students to the wonderful world of Animoto.

    A welcome address to the students: The Animoto video was used for one of my classes.

    You can import your own music or use the music provided.

    Carol Edwards

  5. Will, Hi…Did I miss Daniel Gilbert yesterday? If so, is it archived? Did you know I developed a positive psych course and teach it at another graduate university? I would love to see what I missed. Thanks, Dora

  6. Robert Lockwood

    Will,I am sure that this is somewhere but how do I go about embedding a Jing Image into an announcement? I want to show one of the course extras information. Thanks, Bob

  7. Dear Professor deBock
    Greeting from (rainy) Dublin.

    Just a brief note of introduction from the School of Arts in Dublin Business School.

    We have been part of Kaplan for some time now and I have personally been very interested in seeing what else is going in the Kaplan community.

    I have been a regular follower of the Innovations Lab for some time now and have added your newsfeed to a blog that we run at http://dublinbrownbag.blogspot.com/

    FOr the moment I thought I would just say a brief ‘Hello’ and a ‘Thank You’ for the fascinating blog.
    Kind regards

  8. Hi Will,

    I work for an education technology start-up in London, and our team regularly visit your blog for thought-leadership. I found your post on the ‘Scale of the Universe’ tool particularly interesting – what a great resource to use in the classroom. As someone passionate about educational technology you may be interested in Wordia – an engaging learning resource.

    Not sure if you’ve heard about us (Wordia.com), but I’d value any thoughts you have on what we’re trying to do (we’re trying to map the K-12 – all of the vocabulary that students need to learn… raising literacy and subject vocab levels, through video and games-based learning).

    Originally, Wordia was built as a ‘living video dictionary’, but under the advisement of 100s of educators – we’ve pivoted to something that I’m really excited to be sharing with you!

    The new-look Wordia has just launched – with some smart technology that lets educators build their own word games and hold school tournaments! We’d love you to have a look, and tell us what you think. Indeed – we’re running a t-shirt competition – and I’d love to send a school you know, some free Wordia t-shirts (a thank you – for helping us with the R&D efforts!).

    It’s early days, but your feedback would be most welcome!

    Thanks again.

    Director of Play
    (Research & Development)

    • Rob,

      Great title!

      I just glance at the wordia site. I will definitely give it a run through in the next few weeks.

      I am actually writing a longer essay on game-like motivation, so I am very interested in learning games these days. Chorewars.com was an interesting find this weekend for me.


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